Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing

Anxiety and Depression

Mental Health: Getting the Help You Need

by Sara Stringercollege-anxiety-

For a long time, people who suffered from mental illnesses, like depression, mental abuse, bipolar disorder, anxiety, etc., simply had to try to deal with their problems on their own. Not only was treatment for these conditions scarce (and incredibly expensive), there was an incredibly negative stigma attached to actively seeking it. Over the last couple of decades, though, our society’s views on mental health have shifted radically and, though it has not been completely wiped out, much of the stigma attached to mental illness is gone.

Unfortunately, in most places, the cost of mental health treatment has remained expensive and beyond the average citizen’s reach.

Things are starting to change now, though. One of the biggest components of the Affordable Care Act (colloquially referred to as ObamaCare) is the inclusion of mental health treatment provisions. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Affordable Care Act has provided “one of the largest expansions of mental health and substance abuse disorder coverage in a generation.”

Today, your insurance plan must cover mental health assistance and treatment. This is true whether you use your state’s Medicaid expansion (if your state opted in) or a company like US Health Group private. Private and public insurers alike must cover things like counseling sessions, prescription medications, etc. It is also now illegal for these companies to use a mental illness or mental health treatment as a “previously existing condition” to deny a person coverage.

Of course, even though the coverage is in place, that doesn’t mean that everybody who needs help is going to get it. Caregivers in Philadelphia say that there is still a stigma attached to seeking help for mental illness.

In places like Las Vegas, the insurance coverage is seen as a godsend but it doesn’t make up for a lack of funds available for building adequate treatment facilities or starting important programs to help get people into treatment. And, of course, there are many people out there who are struggling with mental health problems but insist that they are fine and do not need treatment.

One of the prevailing problems with many mental health issues is the brain’s ability to convince a person that his depression or her anxiety either isn’t real, is only temporary, or (worse) is completely justified and, therefore, the person shouldn’t seek treatment because there is nothing to be done.

If you’ve been struggling lately and are wondering whether what you’re dealing with is a mental illness or “just a rough patch,” here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. How long have you been feeling this way/experiencing these symptoms? Be honest; if you experience the same symptoms or feelings for a period of months or years, that it is a sign you should seek help.

2. Have you been to your primary care physician to find out if there might be a physical reason for the feelings and symptoms you’re having? Sometimes what manifests as depression is a hormonal imbalance (and vice versa). If your doctor has ruled out any physical reason for your feelings or symptoms, it is time to seek help.

3. Have you experienced any behavioral shifts lately? For example, if you are normally a gregarious person but have spent the last few months increasingly isolating yourself, this is a reason to seek help.

Trust your instincts! If you are worried, it is better to talk to a professional than to try and go it alone.

About the Author

Sara Stringer is freelance writer who enjoys writing about natural health alternatives. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining an active lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.

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